1:18 pm

 Self-Obsessed Youngsters or New Age Artists?

The narrative around our generation's relationship with social media and technological advancements in general flows pretty much in one direction. Just a broad kinda summation of the story-"They have no ambition outside of attaining a zillion followers." " They suck at communication and all things non selfie related." We are described as being all consumed by this whole internet thing and thus more susceptible to a range of personality defects and limitations in terms of contributing to the world.

Narcissism is the word. Borne out of the story of a vain youth, Narcissus, who spent all his days staring in admiration at his reflection in the water, eventually withering to nothing but a flower.
His story is re-contextualized to a modern era, casting 'Generation Me' in the role of the vain youth and the smart phone front camera as the glistening water. We're always taking selfies, snapping our meals before consumption, religiously snap documenting our lit nights. Obviously to the outsider, this behavior can only lead towards life's downward spiral, breeding bad stuff like self esteem issues, existential crises, diminished social interaction and shallow values of self etc, which are all perfectly valid arguments backed by numbers and endless case studies and surveys in attempts at understanding modern adolescence. But waaait. There's another side to this story.

There's an argument that thankfully plays in our defense and perhaps serves as a possible explanation for what it is we are and what it is we do.

I'm of the impression that our generation is made up of the pioneers of a new revolutionary art movement.

Let me explain.

We can look at blogging in a number of ways for example. I mean, is it just a couple of self proclaimed well dressed people who have taken it upon themselves to give other people advice about what to wear while simultaneously telling people everything about what they're wearing as if someone asked them? Or is it a group of people who have taken it upon themselves to firstly more publicly express their chosen mode of art, clothing, and secondly, thus break the barriers set by the cliquey and previously unattainable fashion world, forging a new path and creating a whole new day job??

We've got your local Braam squads posing in street style photographs every other Saturday.
Do we call this creativity and community of ideas or do we call this narcissism? Are we a bunch of self obsessed youngsters with no hopes or dreams for the future or are we new age of street-style photographers extending the view of  African fashion and dress custom beyond the pages of National Geographic?

The new Rembrandts, and Van Goghs and most importantly Khalos who have taken it upon themselves to tell their own stories and be their own muses instead of waiting for some dude with a camera, paint brush or feather pen to affirm the validity or beauty of their story. The selfie takers. I mean I'm not a big selfie girl, but I've come to new appreciation of the fact that our stories can now be documented by us, from our own point of view. Frida Khalo, an inspiration to many for this main reason comes to mind. She was a pioneer for woman artists as she demonstrated the ability to play the dual role of painter and muse. She used herself as the subject of most of her artworks and switched the traditional roles associating women as solely being sources of inspiration. Self study, self admiration, self documentation gives rise to a more accurate reflection of exactly where we're at as the youth. Haha imagine someone's bomb booty pics being discussed alongside Khalo's work in the future. I love that.

Where do we eventually decide to draw the line? Is there a line? Should we feel bad for taking pride in our insta aesthetics or making regular updates on the current state of our lives and self validated thoughts in the form of 140 character autobiographies paired with appropriate memes, snap stories of our "best life" days and "off the rails" nights?

This random self portrait editorial shoot rose out of a sudden desire to document my ootd and have something tangible to remember it by. I'm cognizant of the fact that running backwards and forwards in ten second intervals in the hopes of getting some decent shots of my outfit must be attributable to some level of self obsession lol. But at the same time, I'm also a bit proud of myself for taking my narrative into my own hands and creating something cool in my own independent capacity.

And soooo the million dollar question finally arises.

Are we becoming more self actualized and aware of who we are in the world, or does the flower crown filter just look too good not to share?

Good luck for exams, kids (or should I say, artists of our time?)

"I paint self portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best"- Frida Khalo

Refiloe Mokgele

Outfit details
Coat and sweater: vintage
Jeans: MRP
socks: Cotton On
Shoes: H&M

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